Texas law generally categorizes shoplifting among theft crimes. Thus, the penalties, if found guilty, is dependent upon the amount or value of items taken.
Understanding shoplifting according to Texas laws
The term “shoplifting” generally refers to the theft of merchandise from a retail establishment. Retail establishments include stores, supermarkets and malls. Shoplifting can also occur at places such as restaurants, bars, gas stations and nightclubs. This type of theft has to occur during regular business hours, and the thief must have had the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the merchandise.
Further, Texas Penal Code Sec. 31.15 also criminalizes the possession, manufacturing, transporting, repair or sale of shoplifting tools. A “shoplifting tool” is broadly defined as any instrument that someone can use to remove a product from a retail establishment without paying for it. This could include things like pliers, bolt cutters, crowbars or even a coat hanger.
Penalties for shoplifting in Texas
If the value of the merchandise is less than $100, then the court can charge the person with a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500. If the value of the merchandise is less than $100, but the offender has a prior theft conviction, the charge can upgrade to a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
If the value of the merchandise is between $100 to $750, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Shoplifting items worth between $750 and $2,500 is a felony punishable by 180 days to 2 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
The penalties could go as high as 99 years in prison, for instance, if someone takes a property worth over $300,000. So, to avoid this, it’s important to use defenses at your disposal with your criminal defense attorney to have the case dismissed or to avoid having a criminal history.
Shoplifting may seem like a simple crime, but the penalties can affect a person for life. Besides the fines and jail terms, a record can make it difficult to get a job or maintain your current job, find housing, apply for a visa, or get custody of your children.